There is a lack of visual excitement and background detail too. Inside the barn, the party scenes are an enthralling swirl of music and fun, but, once again, few and far between. And as soon as we move outside, the animation quality and attention to detail drops significantly. This is not helped by the fact that Otis and the other cows look like giant marshmallows.
Then there are the downright weird elements. Like male cows having udders (are they bulls or hermaphrodites?) and baby cows that look like rubber cushions with teats. It’s false, distracting and kind of disturbing, although the producers obviously thought a bull’s equipment would be more so.
Compounding this is a storyline and characters that are too obvious to have any heartfelt impact or charisma. Otis’s and Ben’s feelings are spelt out rather than suggested, which makes it hard to care. If writer/director Steve Oedekerk thought real emotion would be too complex for kids to understand, he’s obviously never seen The Lion King. The average seven-year-old is more empathetic than most jaded adults.
The voice performances are probably the best part of Barnyard, with Danny Glover pitch-perfect as wise old Miles the Mule and Sam Elliot conveying the true strength of a leader as Ben the Cow. Dave Koechner is particularly impressive, putting real menace into the snarling and murderous Dag the Coyote, while Wanda Sykes as Bessy the Cow exercises her trademark sassy attitude to great effect.
Barnyard is not a bad animated film, it just doesn’t come close to the level of instant classics like Over The Hedge or Finding Nemo. It’ll keep the kids adequately amused for a Saturday afternoon or three, but it will also be as quickly forgotten as yesterday afternoon’s K-TV programming.
- Amanda Whitehouse
This animated film about barnyard animals is occasionally funny and charming, but hardly farm fresh.
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